Martial Arts Masters brings menu-based combat to the ring

Martial Arts Masters is a new Facebook that sees you in charge of your very own dojo. You’ll train your fighter, buy items to strengthen them up, and enter them in challenges against other opponents. You can even fight against other players. This all takes place in a largely text-based game where you manage filling meters a lot more than you do actually fighting.

At first glance the layout is super complicated, with a ton of menu options, numbers, timers, and graphics all over the screen. The three banner ads at the top and another three at the bottom and down the side don’t help keep the interface clean either. It looks pretty jumbled, though with a little time it’s easy enough to understand.

After creating your fighter you’re given numerous choices of things you can do, but the first thing you’ll want to get under your belt is some training. Clicking the training button gives us a list of different exercises we can put our fighter though to increase his stats, and will also tell us how much energy, money, or items it will take to engage in said training. Energy is a finite resource that refills over time and fills automatically when you level up.

Martial Arts Masters

Each time you finish an exercise your stats increase a bit. After some training you probably want to test these stats out, and that’s what the challenges tab is for. Here you can spar against other players or try and fight your way through a tournament. Each fight costs one spirit (another recharging finite resource) and plays out automatically. If you win you get bonuses, and losses get you nothing.

Next up is your dojo, where you can manage your corner of the Martial Arts Masters world, recruit other players, or edit your own. The more players you recruit, the bigger and badder your dojo gets. You can also check out all your stats (fight history and such) as well as manage acquired items.

The business section is really a place to get revenue coming in through different activities, but most have prerequisites involving having lots and lots of people in your dojo. One activity needs 333 friends! The store and promoter tabs just let you buy game items, with the store using in-game currency and the promoter asking for real world cash.

Martial Arts Masters

The beta-ness of the game is definitely on full display at the moment, as I saw my spirit and energy meters fluctuate and icons flash when there was nothing going on inside them. There’s next to no tutorial so you’re left just clicking at random until you get your feet under you, and each time I loaded up the game I was greeted by the same messages, they just didn’t clear. All issues that will hopefully be cleared up once it’s out of beta.

The whole set-up is pretty interesting, but when it comes down to the fighting there’s just no involvement from the player and nothing cool to watch. You don’t see guys fighting, you just see a health bar drop. In fact the entire game right now is just different menus and different meters you’ll fill up. Those of us old enough to remember MUDs or text adventures will see some similarity but can a game like that really survive in the Facebook game space? Only time will tell.